Returning to BodyBuilding: Muscle Memory

muscle memory and bodybuilding

After years and years of trying to perfect your muscular physique, countless hours at the gym, vitamins and supplements, and eating healthy you finally achieve what you have been working for. However, in the blink of an eye anything can happen including accidents, injuries, or even just getting a new job that permits you less gym time. These are just some examples of things that can throw you off the fitness wagon. Do not lose hope though, your amazing body may be closer than you think. Returning to bodybuilding may seem scary, but muscle memory will be there to help.

What is muscle memory?

Muscle memory is a form of procedural memory, which is when your body remembers automatically how to do something from repeating the same thing over and over. You can simply practice something regularly to gain this muscle memory. Many examples of muscle memory, besides bodybuilding include, riding a bicycle, playing an instrument, or playing video games. Muscle memory is what you have been working so hard in the gym for in the past. Now you do not have to start all over.

How does muscle memory work?

There are a more than a couple theories of how this works though none know them to be fact. The first theory is that muscle memory may come from leftover tissue. The leftover tissue from the muscle that your body has absorbed that is still there, just slightly shrunken. When you begin to workout again you begin to build up the tissue around the muscle. The second theory is that your muscle memory comes from your central nervous system. Central nervous system training is thought to mean that nerves know the pathway to go to build that muscle back up. You do not have to learn to do it again, your muscle remembers.

How long does it take to regain your muscle memory?

The amount of time it takes to regain your muscle memory depends on you. Really you know what it took you to get there in the first place. You know the hard work and dedication it took to get there. That part doesn’t change. The difference will come quicker, you will be back to where you once were faster. You know what you need to get there, your muscle remembers how to get you there, more rapidly. You will be stronger and have more muscle mass before you know it.

The science behind muscle memory is unknown. However, many bodybuilders that have been out of the game a time or two can tell you that they have experienced muscle memory firsthand. Muscle memory has taken them to their goal faster and has exceeded their expectations. So, no matter how long you have been out a fitness routine, with just a few times of hitting the weights, you too will be confident in your ability to get back to where you left off.

Don’t forget to factor in fitness when restarting

Even with muscle memory on your side, it’s still very important to keep fitness in mind.  Remember that if you have not been using your body in the same way, returning to your old form still requires a gradual build.

The good news is that due to the fact that you have muscle memory on your side, it won’t take you as long to catch up as it would if you were doing your workouts the first time around. Remember what you learned when you built yourself up the first time, though.  You could push yourself to your line, but after that you were risking injury.  That was to be avoided not only due to the discomfort, but also due to the additional unnecessary setbacks you create for yourself.

Avoiding Injury

Resist the inclination to rush.  You want to reach your goals as efficiently as possible, but rushing won’t help you to reach your goal. It will only line you up to experience more setbacks.

Be sure to space out the times in which you focus on various muscle groups.  Instead of doing a whole-body workout every day, focus on large muscle groups so you can alternate or cycle them.  For instance, if you have a leg day today, focus on abs or arms tomorrow.

Rest should be considered a critical part of your workout. Your muscle memory will help to ensure that you don’t lose ground, while the recovery times allow your muscles enough time to heal up between workout sessions. This pattern will give you the most efficient recovery and progress and will help to keep your workouts interesting and varied at the same time.  That can keep your motivation high, which is critical to keeping up your efforts over the longer-term.

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